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Life’s Lessons On Plum Lick

This is the story of three robins, an echo, and a dove. True story. Just the facts.

Robin #1 was a baby. Apparently, it was well-hatched but was just a few feathers short to be thinking about flying. Mama flew and Daddy flew, so what’s to keep me from trying my wings?

I’ll tell thee, Little Robin.

You were lucky to have landed without breaking your beak. When Mama (Robin #2) found you there she didn’t go off and leave you. She brought you a worm and offered it to you. But you wouldn’t open your proud jaws. So Mama dropped the worm, went around to your side, and bopped you sharply on the head. She returned to the front, picked up the worm, and made a second offering.

You opened up. In went the worm.

Lesson: Do solo flights with care; don’t be too proud to accept help when it’s offered. Be thankful for those who remember how it was when they were fragile and lacking experience.

Robin #3. A different bird on another day. This was a grownup. It was a self-centered male with a strong sense of what’s mine, what’s yours, and what’s in the murky middle. In the center of our flower garden there’s a little angel sitting on top of a reflective globe. If you get down on your knees and look into the orb you can see yourself, plain as anything.

Along comes Mr. Robin Redbreast struttin’ his stuff. He looks, sees the reflection of himself, but thinks it’s another male taking over his territory. Mr. I-Know-Everything bird attacks. The other robin counterattacks. Neither side will back down. Mr. Robin Redbreast gets really red. He jumps up and down and beats his feathers for a fare-thee-well. The competition returns the reddened plumage favor. Mr. Redbreast is beside himself. He stalks around the globe, beating a path of confusion. No matter how many times he looks, the other bird stares back. No matter how many times he jumps furiously up and down, the other bird does the same thing.

Lesson: Be careful about mistaking the intentions of the other fellow. Don’t take yourself so seriously you can’t see yourself looking back at yourself.

Which brings us to the echo. Where we live on Plum Lick if a dog barks toward the west, the sound travels to the front of a barn and returns as faithfully as if there’s another dog barking back. Two barks, two barks. Three barks, three barks. If a dog isn’t careful, he or she will bark him or herself batty.

Lesson: Let sleeping echoes lie. Don’t waste time barking at a barn, especially when there’s fog and the moon is full.

The dove. Oh, the graceful, wide-eyed dove sometimes known as the mourning dove related in a mysterious way to the rain crow. Above our front door, woven in with the grape vine decoration, there’s a nest where a mother dove sits quietly on her eggs. She doesn’t mind when we come and go past her sense of place. She’s a peaceful creature.

If you want to see some pictures and learn more about this beautiful bird, go to and type in “dove,” “mourning dove,” and “rain crow.”

Of course, if you don’t have access to a computer you might be your own bird watcher.

Lesson: Well, maybe there is no lesson, only a private experience that will be a satisfaction down through the years. We’re not disturbing our mourning dove that feels so much at home here.

As for the robins, one, two, and three, we’ve smiled many times at their antics. We’ve helped the robin, confused by its reflection, by circling the globe with a cardboard box. The “intruder” has gone away, which is not to say that there are never intruders.

The barking echo? We have no clue. Let the dogs bark as the echo rolls on.

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